By Mary Catherine Machalec
Special to The Texas Catholic
The annual Care Package Drive for the Honor Our Heroes Committee is well under way for the fifth year in a row. What started as a small idea has slowly flourished into a service project of massive proportions and a permanent ministry at Prince of Peace Catholic Community in Plano.
It started five years ago when Susie Anderssen, a longstanding member of the parish, noticed the absence of any ministry at the parish to support active-duty military members. As the daughter of a Pearl Harbor veteran and wife of a Vietnam veteran, love of her country is a virtue that runs deep in her history and her heart.
“The first thing I wanted to do was put a prayer in the bulletin or have a prayer intention at Mass for our service members,” Anderssen said.
What she didn’t know was that at the same time her friend from the parish, Marianna Thiebaud, had a desire to put together care packages for soldiers. Once they connected, they decided to combine efforts and the Honor Our Heroes Committee was born.
Now five years in, the ministry has over 150 people involved and puts on the annual Care Package Drive to provide not just care packages for deployed troops, but also encouragement and support through prayer.
The first year over 250 packages were made, and after the 2022 drive they will have given over 2,250 boxes since its inception. The packages are given out at Sheppard Air Force Base and a National Guard Unit in Grand Prairie as troops prepare for deployment.
This year the ministry aims to provide even more hope and encouragement to the troops by including a Hershey’s candy bar with a special note from a Prince of Peace parishioner. Children also were encouraged to make their own cards after the weekend masses, and all items will be delivered on Oct. 15.
“We know how important freedom is, and the members of this committee wouldn’t be here if we didn’t,” said Anderssen, who gets choked up talking about the efforts. She also sees the Catholic faith as an integral part of the ministry, making special note of their efforts to intentionally pray the rosary for those serving and protecting our country.
“To me being Catholic is about serving and helping other people. The lyrics of the hymn Servant Song best sum up our efforts: We are here to help each other, walk the mile and bear the load,” she quotes from memory. “If you just live by those words, you will have a good life.”